[Citizendium-l] A thought for late night Saturday

Larry Sanger sanger-lists at citizendium.org
Sun Jan 28 01:59:34 EST 2007

(Some inspirational reading here...)


Some have said that the Citizendium can't possibly compete with Wikipedia,
that we can never achieve their momentum, and that, therefore, we will
always be irrelevant.  I think that this sentiment is a bit confused and
could stand a bit of perspective.

I remember what caused Wikipedia's growth, which led directly to its present
(qualified) success: we created content; Google spidered the content; people
arrived from Google at Wikipedia pages; they created more content; lather,
rinse, repeat.  It's called "the Google effect."

As long as we have a quorum of people creating a growing amount of content,
then as soon as we open up to the public and have Google spider CZ, we too
will experience the Google effect.  This will become particularly pronounced
as time goes on since people will be more apt to link to approved CZ
articles than WP articles, over the long haul, I think.

I remember what people said when we started Nupedia and Wikipedia.  I
remember people saying, "How do you think you can ever compete with the big
proprietary encyclopedias, which can pay their writers, and which don't have
to rely on amateur volunteers?"  How wrong those people were: as we now
know, it was merely a matter of time.

So why not think that it is also merely a matter of time for CZ?

We haven't even *launched publicly* yet--because, er, we can't afford it.
(Not because we don't want to.)  And yet already we have a definite
community and many excellent articles under way.  This doesn't bear
comparison to Wikipedia now, but it bears comparison to Wikipedia in its
first year, and CZ comes off looking pretty well.

We have seen fireworks this past week, I think.  We've had a whole series of
wonderfully productive days, and I think we're really hitting our stride
with this new self-registration initiative.  When we launch publicly, I
think we are going to see much more amazing growth.  Again, perhaps not
amazing by Wikipedia's standards today, but amazing by any other standards,
even perhaps by the standards of Wikipedia in 2001.

I think there is another thing that many skeptics are not taking into
account.  It is that there will come a time--probably this coming year--when
it is clear to *everyone* that CZ is not going away, that it has been
growing, and that there is no reason that it will not continue to grow
exponentially just as Wikipedia did.

And then people will *really* start to pile on.  That's when our technical
headaches will really begin--and that's why we've got to be prepared!


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